By Mohamed Abdi
Islamophobia is real and active in Canada, but the country is taking initiatives aimed at fighting the phobia. Canadian Muslims shouldn’t be frightened in a country that takes pride in diversity and tolerance, as they’re an integral part of Canadian society, making them entitled to every right and respect which other communities have and enjoy.
Islamophobia is to be fearful of Islam and Muslims based on misinformation and sheer propaganda, sensationalized by some media outlets. Because of the misinformation, many people develop biases against Islam and its followers.
But Islamophobia has intimidated, bullied, marginalized, and killed Canadians of the Islamic faith. Some individuals filled with hate and rage have targeted Canadian Muslims and inflicted them with an immense hardship of different magnitudes, murdering some of them in a broad daylight. Islamophobia is the sole culprit of their suffering.
On June 6 of this year, a hateful individual killed four members of a Canadian Muslim family who emigrated from Pakistan 14 years ago. The family members were strolling along their town’s streets, enjoying life when the angry male overrun them intentionally and obliterated them at once. He used his truck as a weapon to annihilate the family. Only a nine-year-old boy survived the carnage but lost parents, his older sister, and his grandmother. He’ll live with an everlasting trauma instigated by the brewing Islamophobia in the country.
This unfounded phobia is a fact in Canada and has seriously affected many residents of the country. Perpetrators attacked Somali-Canadian women wearing hijabs in the province of Alberta early in this year, hurting some of them severely. These brutal attacks shook the Muslim community to the core and alarmed the country’s government levels. As a result, police services investigated cases that had occurred in their respective localities, arresting some culprits and taking them to courts to get consequences.
On 29 January 2017, an angry armed man entered a crowded mosque in Quebec City and shot congregants at random. The killing occurred minutes after the Maqrib (evening) prayer had ended. He killed six men and gravely maimed five others in less than two minutes. He orphaned children, widowed women, and shuttered the happiness of entire families. What an awful tragedy.
Islamophobia can’t disappear easily, or overnight. Its fight needs collective efforts. And that’s why many Canadian Muslim organizations called on Canada to take any action to fight the phobia and make Canadian Muslims live in peace and tranquility. The country has heeded that call and held a national conference that assembled federal ministers, Members of Parliament, officials from provincial and municipal governments, Canadian Muslim organizations, and other agencies.
That one-day conference was held in Ottawa (the country’s capital) on July 21. The goal was to study the extent of the phobia and how it could be mitigated, if not eradicated. Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau opened the summit, vehemently denounced Islamophobia, and asked the country to stand in solidarity with Canadian-Muslims residing in all parts of the country.
During the summit, Canadian Muslims from across the country articulated their issues and presented their concerns and cumulative experiences, elaborating how hate and bigotry destroyed many Muslim families’ lives, citing both individual and collective narratives.
“The recent deadly hate-motivated terrorist attack on a Muslim family in London, Ontario, underscores the urgent need to take further steps to combat Islamophobia and all forms of racism,” read an excerpt from a news release by the federal government one day after the summit.
Canada, according to the summit’s recommendations, is committed to fighting Islamophobia. In so doing, governments levels will monitor hate groups, tackle misinformation about Islam, and adjust the operation of some security and financial agencies of the country that allegedly target Canadian Muslims.
Canadian Muslims are an integral part of their country. Hence, nobody can rob them of the rights that Canada gives them. Neither bigots nor intimidators will deny Muslims those rights, but Islamophobia is a reality on the ground. So, the country has to keep an eye on its Muslim population and protect them.
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Mohamed Abdi is a Somali-Canadian Writer. You can read more of his articles on: https://www.bakayr.com/
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